Listuguj, a Mi’gmaw community in Gespe’gewa’gi (present-day Gaspe Penninsula of Quebec) hosted a mawiomi (gathering) ‘Honouring our Land’ as part of nation (re)building on March 21-23. Approximately two hundred people took part in this gathering, including elected leaders, hereditary leadership from the Mi’gmaq Grand Council, Elders, academics, delegates from Tribal Councils, Mi’gmaq youth and community members. Highlights at the mawiomi include a keynote address from Dr. Pam Palmater, Mi’gmaq lawyer, author and activist; presentations by Gji-Geptin Antle Denny of the Grand Council and Jaime Battiste, Treaty Education Lead in Nova Scotia; workshops (with Youth and community); and facilitated discussions to develop a protocol on Moose Harvesting reflective of Mi’gmaq ways of knowing and practices.
Amongst other activities, the mawiomi included three small and large group facilitated discussions amongst all participants. Community facilitator/note takers engaged the small groups in conversations, and together captured (some of) their experiences and stories on paper and as part of oral collective meaning-making process. These conversations culminated in an oral, and written, acceptance of a Proclamation on Moose Harvesting reflective of Mi’gmaq laws, including the concept and practice of Netugulimg. The practice of Netugulimg represents a sacred agreement with the environment and all of its inhabitants. Also, from the outset, we sought to involve Mi’gmaq youth in meaningful ways by working with teachers and administrators at the local (on Reserve) school, Alaqsite’w Gitpu School. The mawiomi participants joined the school for their siggw (spring) celebrations, and Palmater delivered her keynote address at the school with the mawiomi participants and Grades 7 and 8 students, and their teachers in attendance.
Along with a team of Mi’gmaq people, PhD candidate Amy Chamberlin had the honour of taking part in the conceptualization, organization, and delivery of the ‘Honouring our Land’ mawiomi. This forum on nation building animates ways that Indigenous nationhood is about diversity of voices; building relationships; making space for stories, ceremonies, and songs; and taking action. The mawiomi deepened my awareness of present-day expressions of Indigenous resurgences, moving beyond shallow forms of reconciliation. Wela’lioq ms’t wen!
**Under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Henderson, and committee members Drs. Sophie Tamas and Paula Sherman (Trent University), Amy Chamberlin is working on a dissertation project entitled “Remembering Indian Day Schools: Looking Beyond Reconciliation as a ‘National Hug’’.